Podcasting viewed thru old media lens

Mark Ramsey’s Hear 2.0 tackles the obvious resistance radio broadcasters have about podcasting – namely – if I put my “content” online – why would anyone listen to my radio station?

One issue I have with Mark’s post (and I think it’s really with Mark’s articulation of the broadcasters point of view) is his use of the word “audience”. For example –

If you podcast highlights or bits or interviews of your show as online bonuses or delay the podcast for a reasonable time, I believe this will ADD to your on-air audience, ….

If you podcast your entire show online on the same day it runs live, I believe you will SUBTRACT from your audience.

The implication here is the only “audience” worth having is the one listening to your content on the AM/FM device.

To me – audience is audience whether listening online or on an ipod. That’s the leap broadcasters are going to have to get their heads around.

By maintaining this dividing line between online and on-air it enforces the broadcasters view as ” if I refrain offering my content online I FORCE people to listen to my station to hear it”

This – is old school. And it’s also bullshit.

The future is not going to be kind or supportive to systems that put limits on users. Phone carriers are going to start figuring this out too.

Worrying about keeping in use, or forcing people to use certain devices ONLY at certain times to get certain content is increasingly becoming out dated and intolerable.

Radio thinks it can keep that system intact by using the new mediums to put out morsels – or as Mark calls them “teasers” that seek to FORCE people back to the radio at prescribed dates and times.

That’s a nice transitional move to get reluctant broadcasters USED to these new ideas of making content float freely between devices- but ultimately it’s not going to matter.

If you’re not on-demand – you are probably not going to be IN demand.

Scarcity – manufactured or otherwise (as in “appointment” based listening) is an Industrial Age mechanism that is vastly outdated in a digital era.

One of the larger points I think Mark misses here is that of the USER’s perspective. For them it’s increasingly a question of “if your not making your content available to me when I want it to be available – I’m not going to use it.”

Mark uses an example of not listening to the public radio station itself because he can get the shows online.

In the Public Radio world, for example, many of the weekly programs are podcast in their entirety. As much as I appreciate this, it absolutely reduces the listening for many would-be listeners.

Reduces listening to the CONTENT – or the AM/FM device?

My own experience offers the opposite example of Mark’s point.

I love KQED’s Forum – and yet I can’t listen when it’s on the radio in real time. So – I’m NOT a listener.

But once they started podcasting the FULL SHOW – not only did I go from being a NON-LISTENER to a REGULAR listener of the show – I also have a way to tell friends about the show (or specific shows) – some of whom live overseas – and they have a way to use the content at their own convenience.

This is true of many programs. KCRW is now on my radar and I’m a fan of some of their shows because they are podcast. Not only do I NOT have to be FORCED to listen at specific times – I don’t even have to be in the same CITY.

I know this frightens broadcasters in much the same the way selling SINGLES on iTunes frightens record labels.

Letting people get ONLY what they want – and not FORCING them to listen to or PAY for the stuff they don’t want is how it’s ALL going to be.

That’s where things are trending.

I can relate a story from a recent listener panel. A listener asked why we don’t play more world music on KFOG. When we told them we have a world music show they asked when they could hear it. When we said it was on Sunday Mornings at 6am – the room literally burst into laughter.

Its absurd and everyone knows it. If we could – we’d podcast that show (and others) today.
Smart broadcasters – with good content – know that podcasting doesn’t drive audiences DOWN – it expands them. Potentially exponentially.

But we have to let go of the notion that we’re in the AM/FM DEVICE USAGE business.

Sorry – that’s the new game EVERYONE involved is going to have to learn how to play.

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9 Responses to Podcasting viewed thru old media lens

  1. Mark Ramsey says:

    I agree with many of your points. Yes, “audience” means more than on-air. But at present radio lives in an Arbitron rated world. And no one in radio is going to play a different game until they can figure out how to monetize it (and yes, they should, but no, they haven’t).

    TV is, as you know, working hard to monetize this world.

    I absolutely disagree with you that folks will necessarily seek out a show on the air they can get via podcast. They MAY do this, yes, but once the genie is out of the bottle and the control is theirs I fail to see why they should play radio’s game radio’s way ever again.

    Further, as I said, it depends on the frequency and length and attractiveness of the show. “Being in the right place at the right time” is one thing. But going out of one’s way to listen to the radio when a podcast is close at hand is irrational and not likely in the world where consumers control the content.

    And I have heard listeners say that.

    Good content podcast does not increase on-air listening unless its more convenient or desirable to listen on-air than on pod.

    And for a show that’s weekly for 30 or 60 minutes, there’s no such thing as “convenient.”

  2. Mark Ramsey says:

    Jeff, i also think you need to distinguish between “force” and “attract”.

    They are not the same.

  3. Mark Ramsey says:

    And finally….Yes, I do think this is all transitional.

    The real initiative that needs to happen is how radio as an industry can monetize their content regardless of platform.

    Then my post becomes moot.

  4. Jeff Schmidt says:

    Hey Mark –

    “”I absolutely disagree with you that folks will necessarily seek out a show on the air they can get via podcast. ”

    I never suggested podcasts woud drive “station” listening. Foor example I don’t listen to KQED FORUM on radio – I listen to the podcast on my ipod in afternoon drive – 6 hours AFTER it aired.

    Am I not a listener?

    “yes, but once the genie is out of the bottle and the control is theirs I fail to see why they should play radio’s game radio’s way ever again.””

    This is my point. I don’t think we disagree Mark. Resistence of this by radio is pointless. New media is conditioning users to expect a level of control over their entertainment- items as banal as most music stations won’t have much of a chance in “keeping” listeners tuned in if they don’t fit into that new world.

    I totally get your point on “force and attract”.

    But it feels like “force” to me when you’ve got a show that I find attractive – but can’t hear because it conflicts with MY schedule.

    Arbitron (or other) will have to catch on to this – as I said – this is where everything is trending.

  5. Mark Ramsey says:

    Jeff, of course you’re a listener. But you are neither counted nor monetized. That makes you as good as a non-listener from the perspective of a business trying to keep its doors open to afford to produce the content that you and I consume.

    Listen, I listen to a bunch of Public Radio programs that I will NEVER find on the radio even if I go looking. And to them, I am neither counted nor (sufficiently) monetized.

    Regarding control, not everyone wants it. Believe it or not. There is still a passive audience out there. Check out my NAB presentation for more details.

    Regarding Force/Attract…even the new CBS move to put their stuff on the web will do so the day AFTER it is on the air. Does this FORCE people to watch it on the air? Or attract them to it? I think it’s a matter of perspective. If it’s of interest to you it’s attract. If not, it’s force.

  6. Jeff says:

    “”Jeff, of course you’re a listener. But you are neither counted nor monetized””

    For now. The key point is that I am a user of the content and would not have been without the podcast. When they start counting – I’m already there. And they will HAVE to start counting.

    FWIW – I’ve never gotten an arbitron diary (most people haven’t) and I’ve skipped more commericals on radio than I’ve listened to (also not alone in that practice) yet the economics on radio have worked. But the central illusions that have propped al lthat up are beginning to show their weakness.

    Ultimately I believe the potential audience gained from making content available on demand is greater than the potential audience gained by making people show up at specfic dates and times on a specific device to get it. I’m not saying there’s no such things as MUST TUNE IN EVENTS. In film you have BOX OFFICE OPENING WEEKENDS – AND the DVD. Currently radio is ignoring the DVD. See?

    Also – I’m right there with you on the passive thing. There will ALWAYS be a desire for the simplicity of clicking a button, or a link and having songs or other audio content come out without having to do anything. AM/FM/HD, Satellite, Internet Radio, iPod on shuffle will ALL continue to serve this function for people.

    I’m not advocating a radical wholesale change to any 1 method over and at the exclusion of other methods. I’m simply advocating radio stop thinking there’s ONLY 1 kind of audience – the audience using an AM/FM/HD radio.

  7. Dick Hungate says:

    This back-and-forth is all very interesting!

    I enjoy folks’ differing points-of-view even more from
    the broader standpoint of personal, mental stimulation
    than from the standpoint of precisely WHAT they’re saying.
    HOW someone expresses his or her point always has
    seemed fascinating. Excellent “idea tennis” here, guys.

    That’s probably why I joined the high school debate team.
    Whoooooooops ! Nerd alarm !!! How could a guy be into
    both “Wheels of Fire” by Cream and standing up in front of
    a crowd to take and then vigorously defend a position? Believe
    it or not, it could be pulled off. The alternatives were either to be
    a jock (and I can hardly do thirty pushup’s, let alone provide pass
    coverage for the receiver) or to be a head…lying around stoned.
    And then you your “hybrids”…incredibly gifted singer / songwriters
    such as Jackson Browne and Don Henley…who managed to do both !

    that was me. It IS possible.

  8. Dick Hungate says:

    Uhhhh…the last line was not supposed to be there…how hilarious.
    No, the “hybrid” dude was NOT me. I was a straight-arrow (like Cameron
    Crow’s character in the movie “Almost Famous”) all through the sixties and
    seventies…just catching concerts, memorizing the liner notes and making
    good grades. It wasn’t until much LATER that I started screwing up…like
    getting a DUI at 46…and had to channel my former successful, straight self.

  9. Gaius Sims says:

    Jeff is on target. Personally, I am a maverick broadcaster who for the past number of years has found it increasingly difficult for me to find an outlet for my “content” music, information and other social neccessities, especially in the area of adult black programing.

    Podcasting (and black folks do listen to Podcast and are catching on to MP3 Players-lots of them) can reinforce listernership and first chance I get to apply my podcast marketing concepts to the advancement of programming “positive content” to black adult listeners (PRFTAOAAL) I’ll be more then glad to show you how it works. I might even invite you to my website. As a matter of fact as much as I love radio I really don’t need it, but – I will be nice and forgiving enough to include it in my plan.

    To my buddy Mark, yes it might be a little labor intense but in support of my buddy Jeff… it DOES depends on the content… but to the both of you… how do you reconcile those two propositions? Hmmm….

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